Reflection (lat.) thoughtful, sensible retrospection on experiencing; thinking, bethinking, reasoning. Reflection is actually a higher state of consciousness, „knowledge about knowledge“, a thoughtful observation of conscious activity and its’ achievements (…) a significant source of cognitions about psychic facts and logical laws of consciousness itself.
— Philosophical dictionary
Reflections are, as the philosophical dictionary teaches us, a significant source of knowledge, cognition and understanding of oneself and the world. But to be able to shape those reflections into judgments from which we would be able to derive certain conclusions, we need a language through which we could transfer them from our minds and display them to the world. However, words are still the primary channel of communication in our western culture when it comes to pronouncing judgment about the world, and photography is – as an art, a discipline, or means of communication – often treated as a marginal or at least subordinated communication practice in mainstream discourse. For the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, however, thinking and understanding primarily belong to the domain of the image. In terms of that he will always appoint himself a devotee and disciple of Freud, referring to Freud’s following statement: “Thinking in pictures is…only a very incomplete form of becoming conscious. In some way, too, it stands nearer to unconscious processes than does thinking in words, and it is unquestionably older than the latter both ontogenetically and phylogenetically.”
Reflection itself is also located in the core of a majority of cameras. The SLR or single lens reflex system guides us to a small mirror in the heart of the camera, which mediates between the human eye/mind, and what the lens sees. This mirror reflects the image located in front of it, helping man to catch and comprise what he considers relevant. His visual language tells what he perceived through his own reflection while comprising time and space to a two-dimensional fraction of the world defined by the hard edges of photographic paper or ones and zeroes of modern technology. Man’s accurately tuned bodily apparatus is in this regard very similar to a camera, which enables him, besides writing, to express his thoughts through images.
Since the world we live in today is facing tremendous changes along with ethical and economic challenges, we want to urge photographers to face them and reflect upon them. We’d like to know and see what they themselves see and perceive as societal problems, or situations that bother them as individuals. At what angle, and in which way do we reflect through a camera, or our own mind? Where does this reflection appear and disappear, are we even its owners? Are we standing in the reflection of a city storefront as demiurges of our own universe, or do we reflect broader social issues through this mirror? Are these issues primarily reflected in private or public spheres, and how do those spheres look like in their imagery? Can collective memory be expressed through the reflection of a camera, and what would that image look like? What would that image tell us about the history of a particular nation? Should individual photographs entail a written text as a necessary addition, or can the informational simultaneity of a picture speak for itself? Whether it comes to ethics as spiritual optics or gaze in a broader psychoanalytical sense which encompasses questions about feminism, otherness and discrimination, we perceive (photographic) art as a means of expression that has an emancipatory potential for change.
We see the world around us, but we also reflect on it. If Wittgenstein was right in his idea that what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence, maybe the inexpressible can nevertheless be expressed through photography. This year’s sixth edition of the festival Organ Vida wants to explore in which ways these and similar thoughts i.e. reflections can be expressed through the medium of photography, and whether there are some borders left to push within this medium.